If not death wobble, what is it? - Jeep Wrangler Forum
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:21 AM
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If not death wobble, what is it?

So I’ve been reading up on death wobble and watched a few videos. I definitely don’t think that’s what is going on but I haven’t found a shop near me that I trust yet so I thought I’d ask here first. I bought a 2015 JKU with about 30,000 miles on it. The steering wheel vibrates sometimes around 50-55 mph. It’s not anything too scary like I saw in the death wobble videos but it’s annoying. The Jeep has a 3-4” lift that was put on by a BMW dealership by the previous owner. I have no idea what kind of shocks it has on it other than I can see a Teraflex 9550 steering stabilizer on it. So, any ideas???? I’m a single mom and get nervous I’ll get taken advantage of at a shop so I try to do a little homework first. Thank you!!!

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Old 09-30-2018, 07:12 PM   #2
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First off, is this slight wobble only as you are driving on a smooth road or is it when you hit your brakes? If it is happening when you hit you brakes, it is due to improperly torqued lug nuts that has resulted in warped rotors, if you feel it in your steering wheel, it's front tires. If that is the case, buy a decent torque wrench and re-torque them to 100 ft. lbs asap. There is about 50/50 chance that they may straighten out a little bit, but at least they won't get any worse until you find a place you trust to do a good brake job. If it is happening when you are just driving down a straight level smooth road, then it might be tires/rims.

I'm not going assume that you do not have the ability to do a front to rear 4 tire rotation. If you do have the ability to move your front tires to the rear and test drive it, that will tell you if the slight wobble you are experiencing is tire/rim related or loose front end. If after you move the front tires to the rear and the wobble stops or gets less, your problem is either improper balance of one of the tires now on the rear, or possible one of them is separating the tread from the main core of the tire. Only a well trained tire man can tell you that. I have found a Discount Tire store where I live that I trust 90%. The only one I trust 100% is myself. I live near Las Vegas Nevada and when I had a job that I knew I couldn't handle, I asked 6 or 7 places around town "What is the best Jeep repair place in LV to get a jeep repaired?" Almost everybody directed me to one particular shop. That's the place I now take my jeeps when it's a larger job that I care NOT to tackle myself or warranty/recall work that has to go back to the dealership. BUT, If you ask around and get many different answers, I might not trust taking my jeep to any of them. If you have any Jeep clubs near where you live, they might be able to direct you to a reputable repair shop, OR maybe one of the club members has to ability to help diagnosis your problem.

It's very difficult and I feel your concerns. Good Luck. IM me if you have any other questions.

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Old 09-30-2018, 11:50 PM   #3
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Possibly your tires are out of balance and simply need balancing. I'd start there.
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Old 10-01-2018, 12:12 AM   #4
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If it always happens at that specific speed, tyre/s out of balance or out of round are the prime suspects.


If it happens at particular speed after you hit a bump in the road, it is probably a steering shimmy. These become more likely if the lift does not correct the caster properly. I used to get this with an uncorrected 2" lift. Not an issue once I fixed that with some AEV brackets.


I still get vibration at certain speeds (~50-60mph), these were due to out of balance or, with the last set, out of round, tyres.
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Old 10-02-2018, 02:47 PM   #5
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I would start with getting your current wheels/tires balanced. Go to Americas Tire or Les Schwab and have them Road Force balanced and see if the problem is still there after.
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Old 10-02-2018, 03:01 PM   #6
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Tires are a prime suspect for sure...

But, there are a multitude of things that can cause this.

The 2nd suspect to me would be get the caster checked, your front drive shaft angle could easily cause this if the lift wasn't done correctly. An easy and cheap thing to do is remove the front drive shaft and go for a drive. If the vibration goes away, you have narrowed things down to pinion angle or bad driveshaft.

If the vibration is still there with the driveshaft removed, you have quite few things it could be. But most likely tires, bad wheel bearings, bad ujoints, possibly ball joints, or a bad track bar.

There are alot of things that can cause vibrations on these jeeps unfortunately. Even a bad stearing gear...

I wasn't having bad problems like you but I knew somthing was off with my jeep. (69k miles) I replaced the entire front suspension except upper control arms and steering gear. Still had deadband so I ended up replacing the stearing gear too.

Drives like new again!
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:01 PM   #7
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Tire out of balance. A rotational shake at the same speed is always tire related.


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Old 10-03-2018, 12:34 AM   #8
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Just to be clear the term death wobble is no joke. If you ever experience it you will understand. You literally think you might die and at the minimum need to change your underwear. I honestly do not think the jk can get that bad. An xj or prior wranglers without crossover steering were nightmarish!
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Old 10-03-2018, 06:00 PM   #9
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I haven't had DW in the JK. But even the bad steering shimmy from insufficient caster after a lift can feel life threatening. It felt like the front end was about to shake itself apart, and throw the JKU off the road! After that, I don't want to ever experience DW!


The only thing I have experienced that was scarier than that, was a tankslapper at 50+mph on a wet night on a motorway. Turned out to be nothing wrong with the bike, I had just ridden onto a tar snake. (The shiny slippery tar they use to seal cracks in the road surface.) Couldn't see it in the wet, & when the back wheel got onto it, it lost traction & slipped sideways. This pointed the front the other way, so it went off the other side of the 4" wide snake. Of course, as soon as the tyre were back on tarmac, they got traction again, but were both pointed back onto the snake. They then swapped sides, again, & again, & again, until I reached the far end of the repair...


The JK definitely can get DW, but fuzzylogic y2k is right, in that many things that are just vibrations &/or shimmies are mistakenly called DW.

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